DuckDuckGo coming back online in India following country-wide block

Following the Indian ban of almost 60 Chinese apps including TikTok and Weibo, many people living in the country now report not being able to access the privacy-centric search engine DuckDuckGo. The company confirms as much, saying that the problem isn’t on its end. It’s currently talking to local internet service providers to resolve the issue. It looks like these have blocked the service via their DNS servers, as the search engine is still accessible through most third-party DNS resolvers.

While some ISPs are currently already lifting their blocks, the situation is still pretty unclear. The ban seems to have affected many people, though others say that DuckDuckGo remained reachable for them. Some providers have added a note that the website has been blocked by the Indian Department of Telecommunications (which also ordered the ban of the Chinese apps), but others just give out standard failed DNS lookup errors. It’s possible that the service has been caught in the crossfire when India banned the Chinese apps, but we can’t tell for sure.

In the meantime it appears switching to a third-party DNS provider fixes the issue, e.g. the more private 1.1.1.1.

Here’s how to set it up on Android: https://t.co/CeNuiZiHKw

— DuckDuckGo (@DuckDuckGo) July 1, 2020

We can confirm that the block is still in place on at least one network, Jio, while Airtel and Vodafone seem to have unblocked the service for most people. Those who are still impacted are encouraged to change their DNS provider or use a VPN. DuckDuckGo recommends switching to Cloudflare.

Restored access

It appears DuckDuckGo is coming back online in India, with still no explanation from authorities about why the search engine was banned in the first place.

We’re seeing our services being broadly restored in India. Thank you for all of your reports, bringing attention to this issue.

If you’re still having trouble accessing DuckDuckGo Search, please report it to @internetfreedom using this form: https://t.co/jVYFgXTiV7

— DuckDuckGo (@DuckDuckGo) July 4, 2020

There are still some ISPs that haven’t fully restored access, though — reports say ACT Fibernet and Vodafone are still blocking the site.

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